Automation Makes Traditional Japanese Wood Finishing Easier

Unless you move in architectural circles, you might never have heard of Yakisugi. But as a fence builder, [Lucas] over at Cranktown City sure has, with high-end clients requesting the traditional Japanese wood-finishing method, which requires the outer surface of the wood to be lightly charred. It’s a fantastic look, but it’s a pain to do manually. So, why not automate it?

Now, before we get into a whole thing here, [Lucas] himself notes that what he’s doing isn’t strictly Yakisugi. That would require the use of cypress wood, and charring only one side, neither of which would work for his fence clients. Rather, he’s using regular dimensional lumber which is probably Douglas fir. But the look he’s going for is close enough to traditional Yakisugi that the difference is academic.

To automate the process of burning the wood and subsequently brushing off the loose char, [Lucas] designed a double-barreled propane burner and placed it inside a roughly elliptical chamber big enough to pass a 2×8 — sorry, metric fans; we have no idea how you do dimensional lumber. The board rides through the chamber on a DIY conveyor track, with flame swirling around both sides of the board for an even char. After that, a pair of counter-rotating brushes abrade off the top layer of char, revealing a beautiful, dark finish with swirls of dark grain on a lighter background.

[Lucas] doesn’t mention how much wood he’s able to process with this setup, but it seems a lot easier than the manual equivalent, and likely yields better results. Either way, the results are fantastic, and we suspect once people see his work he’ll be getting more than enough jobs to justify the investment.

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Expedient Jig Lets You Crank Out Chain Link Fence

After the zombie apocalypse or whatever is coming, folks like us will be in high demand as the people who know how to fix things, generate electricity, and scavenge parts. But keeping out marauding zombies and neighbors requires fencing. Can you make your own chain link fence? If you watch [Diamleon]’s recent video, you might be able to. Admittedly, the bulk of the video is about fabricating the jig and you should expect to do some welding and cutting.

However, you might be able to make a similar jig with a little less work. The jig is essential a spool on a shaft with a crosswise cut to guide the wire. The whole thing is powered by an electric drill turning a sprocket much like a bicycle.

One pass through the machine makes a nice twisty wire. Once you’ve run off a few lengths of twisty wire it is relatively easy to interlace them into fencing panels. It is one of those things that is hard to visualize until you see it. We were impressed with the drill drive and immediately thought about modifying the design to wind large coils. There are probably many other uses for such a thing. So even if you don’t want to build a fence, you might want to check it out.

As for us, we’ll probably just make our fence out of wood. Or do something electric. Oddly enough, we saw a hand-crank version of this same type of machine last year.

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The Biggest Corner Antenna We’ve Ever Seen

Radio waves are received on antennas, for which when the signal in question comes over a long distance a big reflector is needed. When the reception distance is literally astronomical, the reflector has to be pretty darn big. [The Thought Emporium] wants to pick up signals from distant satellites, the moon, and hopefully a pulsar. On the scale of home-built amateur radio, this will be a monstrous antenna. The video also follows the break.

In hacker fashion, the project is built on a budget, so all the parts are direct from a hardware store, and the tools are already in your toolbox or hackerspace. Electrical conduit, chicken wire, PVC pipes, wood blocks, and screws make up most of the structure so put away your crazy links to Chinese distributors unless you need an SDR. The form of the antenna is the crucial thing, and the shape is three perpendicular panels as seen in the image and video. The construction in the video is just a suggestion, but it doesn’t involve welding, so that opens it to even more amateurs.

Even if you are not trying to receive a pulsar’s signature, we have hacks galore for radios and antennas.

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An Improved Table Saw Fence With Threaded Rod

Back in the bad old days, table saw fences were terrible. You would have to measure the top and bottom of the fence before each cut, just to make sure the fence was square to the blade. In the 1970s, [Bill Biesemeyer] invented a better table saw fence, one that was always square, and included a measuring tape, right on the table saw.

[Jer] wanted an upgrade for his table saw and came up with what might be the next evolution of the table saw fence. It will always produce a square cut, but unlike the 1970s version, this fence has repeatability. If you rip a board to 1″, move the fence, come back to it after a month, and try to rip another board to 1″, those two boards will be exactly the same width.

The secret to this repeatability is a threaded rod. On the front of the fence is a big, beefy piece of threaded rod with 16 threads per inch. On the fence itself is two nuts, cut in half, welded to the guide, with a lever and cam to lock them in place.

When the lever is up and the nuts are disengaged from the threaded rod, the fence easily moves from one side of the table to the other. When the fence is locked down, it locks to the nearest 16th of an inch, and only the nearest 16th of an inch. While that may seem a little large for a relatively expensive tool, this is wood we’re talking about here. There’s not much reason to make the resolution of this fence any smaller; wait until the humidity changes and you’ll have a piece of wood that’s the desired dimension.

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